Search Results

Lera Boroditsky, call your office

Dinosaur Comics for 3/9/2011: (As usual, click on the image for a larger version.)

Comments (96)

Shellacked by Boroditsky

Judging by the popular vote, I've done an epically inadequate job of holding up my end of the Economist's debate "This house believes that the language we speak shapes how we think": the Pro side is winning in a landslide, 78% to 22%.

Comments (20)

Boroditsky on Whorfian navigation and blame

Several readers have sent me links to Lera Boroditsky's recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "Lost in Translation" (7/24/2010).  We've mentioned Prof. Boroditsky's work on LL several times, starting back in 2003, and so long-time readers won't be surprised to learn that I think this is an interesting popularization of solid work.  However, most […]

Comments (28)

Lexical orientation

In "Lexico-Cultural Decay", 10/9/2018, I examined Jonathan Merritt's Google-ngram-based argument that "traditional sacred speech is dying in the English-speaking world" ("The Death of Sacred Speech", The Week 9/10/2018). Today, as promised in that post, I'm returning to his neo-Whorfian conclusion: Now, words have fallen out of usage at every point in history. Language is always changing, […]

Comments (64)

Écriture inclusive

In English, singular personal pronouns are almost the only residue of morphological gender. But in many languages this is a much bigger problem, with gender agreement in adjectives, gendered forms of most nouns, and so on. A few years ago, French proponents of "écriture inclusive" ("inclusive writing") proposed a novel use of an otherwise little-used […]

Comments (52)

Rescued debate

Yesterday Sharon Klein wrote to ask about the 2010 debate on Language and Thought hosted by The Economist: Some colleagues in other departments (notably in philosophy) have been asking to talk about the hypothesis, linguistic relativism, and the actual research around the issues. While I can (and have begun to) collect relevant papers for a […]

Comments (30)

Reverse Debates

From the last year's Foundational Questions Institute conference, a String Theory supporter (Raphael Bousso) is asked to argue against String Theory on behalf of Loop Quantum Gravity, while one of the founders of Loop Quantum Gravity theory (Carlo Rovelli) takes the String Theory side, in opposition to his own point of view: This works out well, making […]

Comments (12)

Around the world of words, without a linguist

Non-linguists frequently ask me whether I am avidly watching "Fry's Planet Word", the new five-part BBC television series on language written and presented by Stephen Fry. (A bit of googling will probably find it for those outside the UK who can't access the BBC iPlayer; there are various illicit copies around, including some on YouTube.) […]

Comments (16)

Language nudges Art

Following up on Wednesday's Dinosaur comics post, Lera Boroditsky wrote: Mark – Thanks for suggesting an important new research direction for my lab in your post yesterday.  Grammatical sexual orientation markers are definitely the next frontier. In exchange, I offer an essay by Jakobson, which is brilliant, and not just because it begins with a […]

Comments (40)

Language and Thought at the Economist

A new motion is open for debate today in the Economist's online series: "This house believes that the language we speak shapes how we think".  Lera Boroditsky is the designated defender of the motion, and I was recruited to be the designated opponent. In this format, each side submits an opening statement, a rebuttal, and […]

Comments (70)

Bloggingheads: Language and Thought

A few weeks after John McWhorter and I participated in a "diavlog" on Bloggingheads, the site is hosting another language-y conversation between Joshua Knobe of Yale and Lera Boroditsky of Stanford. Whereas the previous diavlog touched briefly on neo-Whorfian arguments about the culturally determined relations of language to thought (responding to a New York Times […]

Comments (21)

Never mind the conclusions, what's the evidence?

A month ago, I linked to Lera Boroditsky's WSJ piece "Lost in Translation", and promised to discuss the contents in more detail at some point in the future ("Boroditsky on Whorfian navigation and blame", 7/26/2010). At the time, I noted that there is probably no single linguistic idea that is more prone to exaggeration and […]

Comments (34)

Universal Grammar haters

It's bizarre. Suddenly every piece of linguistic research is spun as a challenge to "universal grammar".  The most recent example involves Ewa Dabrowka's interesting work on the linguistic correlates of large educational differences — Quentin Cooper did a segment on BBC 4, a couple of days ago, about how this challenges the whole idea of  […]

Comments (65)